The European Investment Bank (EIB) has sanctioned a €180m loan for the construction of a new international airport at Heraklion in Crete, Greece.

The airport is expected to replace Heraklion’s existing airport, Nikos Kazantzakis International Airport, which is heavily crowded and unable of accommodating extra passengers with the necessary level of service and security standards.

Heraklion’s new airport, Kastelli International Airport, will be located 30km from the city.

EIB vice-president for Greece operations Andrew McDowell said: “The European Investment Bank recognises the importance of new investment to increase passenger capacity, improve security and support growth of the tourism sector in Greece.

“The €180m EIB loan will enable construction of the new Heraklion airport to finally start after many years of planning and delay. The EIB recognises the commitment to redevelop the existing Heraklion Airport area to unlock economic, environmental and social benefits. This redevelopment is an integral part of our loan conditions.”

In 2017, India-based GMR Airports and infrastructure firm Gek Terna were selected to develop, operate and manage the new Kastelli International Airport.

Granted for a period of 28 years, the loan will support the contribution of the state for the €517m airport construction.

Heraklion International Airport currently handles more than 8.1 million passengers annually and is Greece’s second busiest international airport.

The construction of the airport is expected to be completed in five years. In addition to the airport, a new 18km motorway and 6km access road will also be constructed.

Last month, EIB agreed to provide $50m to reconstruct Princess Juliana International Airport (PJIAE) in Sint Maarten, the Carribean.